wedding gift calculator
Lifestyle,  Wedding

How Much Should You Give For A Wedding Gift?

Have you ever wondered how much you should give for a wedding gift?  Or whether you need to give a wedding gift at all?  As a bride-to-be and someone who will be attending A LOT of weddings over the next year, I have a few thoughts on this topic.  So much so, I developed my own cash wedding gift calculator.

Proper Wedding Gift Etiquette vs. Breaking the Bank

Before I unveil my cash wedding gift calculator, I want to start off by telling a silly little story.  Recently, my fiancé and I were traveling with my brother and his girlfriend for a family wedding.  After paying for flights, hotels, and a portion of the rental car (thank you mom and dad for covering the bulk of it!), our wallets were feeling a little lighter.

And as we drove to our hotel, the topic of how much money constituted an appropriate wedding gift came up.

Naturally, I was concerned I was giving too little.  After all, no one wants to be perceived as cheap or rude by giving a measly little gift!  

Then, my brother’s girlfriend mentioned how it’s acceptable to forego gift giving altogether when you’re traveling for a wedding.  After all, she argued, if you’re spending money to attend the wedding, your presence should be gift enough. 

I was initially appalled by the thought!  But to my astonishment, she’s not wrong.  After scouring the internet, I found article after article making similar arguments, including some from accredited sources like The Washington Post!

Do I Need to Give a Wedding Gift?

So, the question remains.  Do I need to give a gift if I’m attending a wedding?

cash wedding gift calculator

Yes!!  Absolutely!  There’s no way around this. Personally, I believe if you’re invited, you should give something.  And if you’re going to actually attend the wedding, you should 100% be prepared to give a gift.

Why?  Because the bride and groom are prepared to drop some serious dough to have you at their wedding.  Trust me.  Weddings are not cheap! 

Want to find out the cost of a wedding?  Download my free wedding budget template, available to all members of TCC Club.  If you’re not already a member, join by subscribing to our newsletter using the form at the bottom of the page.  And don’t fret if the costs are higher than you anticipate!  Check out my post, How to Save for Your Wedding in 1 Year to learn a few well-kept secrets that my my fiancé and I used to save for our own wedding.

Ok, So How Much Should I Give?

Now, that you’ve made the decision to give a gift, how much should you give?  This is inherently a difficult question to answer, since everyone’s financial situation is different.

So, to make things a little easier, I went through the effort of developing my own cash wedding gift calculator.

Below, I document my cash wedding gift calculator methodology.  First, come up with a baseline amount depending on your means.  Once you’ve calculated your baseline, adjust that amount up or down depending on a few additional considerations.

Baseline Calculation

As a baseline for determining the wedding gift amount, I suggest using the following formula:

        Gross Pre-Tax Annual Income / $1,000 and rounded up or down to the nearest $25.

Also, I’d suggest limiting the wedding gift to $1,000 or under unless it’s your own child getting married.  There’s really no reason to exceed this limit, otherwise.  And based on my formula above, most people won’t exceed it anyways; you’d have to make $1 million a year or more! 

Example #1: Let’s say we have a couple that makes $150,000 annually.  The amount of a wedding gift you should use as your baseline estimate would be $150 ($150,000/$1,000). 

Example #2: Now, let’s say you’re flying solo and you make $78,000 per year.  Your baseline estimate rounded up or down to the nearest $25 would yield a wedding gift of $75 ($78,000/$1,000 = $78, rounded down to $75).

Not too difficult a calculation, right?  With a baseline established, let’s move on to discuss a few additional considerations that might affect the size of your gift.

Adjustments to the Gift Amount

While perhaps controversial, I fundamentally believe there’s a handful of considerations that should affect the amount of your gift.  Based on your responses to the following questions, consider adjusting your wedding gift amount either up or down from the baseline amount:

1. How well do you know the bride and groom?

If you know them well, consider giving more than you typically would.  If this is the case, presumably, they must be pretty important people in your life!

On the other hand, if the bride or groom is a loose acquaintance or someone you’re not close with, consider giving a smaller gift.

2. Were both you and your significant other invited? Kids too?

I understand the cost to have two people versus just one will largely be factored into the baseline calculation.  But, if one person out of your duo earns a smaller income or has no income at all, consider giving more in an instance where you’re both invited. 

Conversely, if your significant other is not invited, consider giving less.  You’ll undoubtedly have less fun without your other half.  And in my eyes, this is reason enough to give a smaller gift.

Also, take into account whether your kids are invited too.  Although the cost per plate for a child is oftentimes less than an adult, it still costs the bride and groom money to invite your kids to their wedding.  If your kids are not invited and you instead have to pay money for a babysitter, think about giving a smaller gift.

3. What are they doing to make things more convenient for you, or conversely are they doing anything to inconvenience you?

Another consideration is what I like to call ‘the guest convenience factor’.  Are the bride and groom doing anything to make your life easier that can contribute to a more positive experience?  Things to think about here would be the availability of hotel blocks, guest transportation, and even the day of week that the wedding is held.

On the contrary, if there’s an element of disregard for guest convenience, I’d recommend reducing the amount of the wedding gift you’re planning to give. For example, if the bride and groom hold their wedding on a weekday and this requires you to take time off from your job, definitely don’t feel like you have to give as much!  This is especially the case since most venues give discounts to couples who book weekdays or Sundays versus Saturdays, which leads me to my next point.

4. What would you estimate to be the cost of the wedding?

If you know a couple is having a low-budget wedding, which will affect your experience as a guest, don’t feel like you have to give as much.  On the flip side, if the couple has pulled out all the stops (I’m talking open bar, live music, steak dinner, etc.), definitely consider giving more to help cover the costs.

5. Has either the bride or groom attended a wedding for you or a close family member? And if so, how much did they give?

A final consideration would be whether the bride or groom has attended your wedding or a wedding of a close family member and what they ended giving for a gift.  Depending on the amount of time that has elapsed (remember inflation exists!), simply consider matching the amount they gave.

Cash Wedding Gift Calculator:

Use the cash wedding gift calculator below or download a copy to determine an appropriate wedding gift amount:

Please note that the wedding gift calculator is intellectual property of The Chic Capitalist, LLC.  It is for your information and personal use only.  Please review the Terms and Conditions Policy for more information.

Thoughts on the Cash Wedding Gift Calculator?

Now, that you’ve had to chance to try out my cash wedding gift calculator, would you say the value of the gift reasonably aligns with your expectations? 

cash wedding gift calculator

Please keep in mind that although my calculator takes into account affordability when determining the size of the wedding gift, the output value may still exceed what you can afford.  Here’s a few ideas to cut down on costs of attending a wedding, so that you can still give a generous wedding gift.

Other Solutions to Giving a Generous Gift

   1. Make a homemade gift

       Homemade gifts can be a great way to cut down on the cost of a wedding gift!  Plus, if you know the bride and groom well, you can personalize the gift to be something they’ll really enjoy.  Looking for some inspiration?  Check out this list of homemade wedding gifts ideas.

   2. Wear a wedding guest outfit you already own or purchase one from a thrift store

       Save on the costs of purchasing a new outfit by wearing something you already own!  Or, if you want a new outfit, consider purchasing one from a thrift store to save some money.  This is a no-brainer way to cut down on the cost of attending a wedding.  Use those savings to give a larger wedding gift.

   3. Plan to split the costs with other invited guests

       Do you know any other guests attending the wedding?  Try splitting costs with them by carpooling, sharing an Airbnb or Vrbo, or splitting the costs of meals.  Again, use those savings to to give a larger wedding gift to the happy couple.

If you really can’t afford to attend the wedding and give a gift, consider skipping the wedding altogether.  Everyone understands that attending a wedding is not cheap.  So don’t be afraid to turn down the invite for financial reasons!

And lastly, if you can’t bear to miss the wedding, but can’t afford to give a wedding gift, simply talk to the bride and groom.  Not an ideal situation, I know!  But I guarantee they’ll want you to partake in their special day, nonetheless.

Other Inspiration

Interested in more-wedding related content?  Check out my other posts: 3 Fall engagement outfits plus stock picks and the true cost of being a bridesmaid.

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Hi! I'm Mikaela, a blogger, CPA, soon-to-be bride, dog-mom, and self-proclaimed finance enthusiast. Join me on my journey to uncover some of the best financial practices and investment opportunities.

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